The Last Grandparents

The Last Grandparents

Hi guys.

I’m sorry I’ve been off the radar for the last 2 weeks.

On Thursday 27 September 2018 my last surviving grandparent – my Mum’s mother passed away peacefully in Tonga aged 87.

grandma tongaa
Rest in Peace Grandma Taina

We celebrated her life with a Melbourne family vigil at my parents house on Sunday 30 September 2018.

Grandma Taina was the matriarch of our large Family, loved our local Catholic School, was loved by her village of Ma’ufanga and leaves behind many relatives with broken hearts.


4 days later on Monday 1 October 2018 my husband Leki also lost his last surviving grandparent – his Mum’s mother! She too was aged 87 and passed away peacefully with family around her in Melbourne.

Rest in Peace Grandma ‘Iunisi

Unbelievably we had both Grandma’s pass away within days of each other.

I would like to share my thoughts as this is still very fresh for me as I’ve just returned from Tonga and saying goodbye to my Grandma Taina.

I left for Tonga with my sisters, Mum and my Aunty on Tuesday morning (2 October) only 6 hours after hearing of Leki’s Grandma ‘Iunisi passing on.

I travelled to Tonga with our 9 month old son Kyneton and Leki stayed in Melbourne with our 3yo Emelina.

When we arrived to our village in Tonga with the Bosco Hall decorated with Grandma Taina’s pictures, mats and cultural items I felt so overwhelmed with grief and sadness.


The rush of getting to Tonga and trying to manage my son distracted me from what was actually happening… until I walked into the hall.

Mum was crying beyond control, the community were singing hymns, prayers were offered, relatives were inconsolable and I was heart broken.

Into the next few days from Wednesday to Friday there were a lot of formal events and gatherings at the family home and in the Bosco Hall which was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone.

There were more arrivals from overseas over these couple of days which set off another round of crying, consoling and comforting each other in our grief!

By Friday Grandma Taina was being prepared for her final journey to rest with my Grandfather ‘Amato who passed away 14 years ago.


There was a long march from the house to the local Catholic Cathedral led by the ‘Api Fo’ou school band and after her final prayer and blessings from the Priest.

Grandma Taina was then carried by her grandsons to her final resting place.

While I was overseas in Tonga, Leki’s family was preparing for the funeral and burial of Grandma ‘Iunisi.

Her final viewing was on Thursday 4 October and Leki’s family organised a closed family affair.


Grandma ‘Iunisi wanted to rest with her husband and Leki’s family honoured her final wish.

After her viewing in Melbourne she was transported to Adelaide to rest with Grandpa Sione Na’a after he passed away 21 years ago.

Here is a tribute made by Leki’s brother for their Grandma – ‘Iunisi Fiefia.

Although this is a tough time for our families we are encouraged by the fact that they lived long and full lives.

They were able to see their children grow, have grandchildren and spend time with great-grandchildren which is such a great blessing!

Sending you all our love.

Rest in Love – Grandma Taina and Grandma ‘Iunisi.

We will miss you terribly and you’ll forever be in our hearts!


Belinda, Leki, Emelina and Kyneton xo


Here is the footage of my Grandma Taina’s funeral:



Traveling woes!

Traveling woes!

The problem with holidays is the preparation, bad enough if you are a solo traveller but many times worse if partner and children are involved. First is the decision of what each member of the family believes to be essential for their future comfort and happiness. I was reminded of this yesterday while waiting to be served at the bakery. A four year old child watched in disbelief as the last chocolate donut (with sprinkles) was handed over to ANOTHER PERSON. He screamed “ No! That’s my donut. Mummy that’s my donut! Why has that woman got MY donut?”

He was outraged and obviously angry that his mother had not snatched it out of the hand of the woman who had taken HIS donut. His embarrassed mother tried to shush him and distract him by offering all the other delights on display. He wasn’t having a bar of it and sobbed even more loudly as each delicious treat was offered. Didn’t his mother understand that a chocolate donut (with sprinkles) was the only cake or biscuit acceptable?

I couldn’t help wondering if this occurrence marked a turning point in his relationship with his mother…..obviously she was not the all-powerful woman he had believed her to be. In later life would he talk about the horror of that moment ?

My two older sons still speak in hushed voices of the time they were left for an hour in the Royal Women’s Hospital crèche while I attended a prenatal clinic….their sense of abandonment still lingers forty years later. Many would find that laughable compared with so many who are in childcare constantly but to them it is very real.

How many parents have accidentally left behind that essential item their child cannot live or sleep without. We left Oggy Doggy on a fence post more than an hour’s drive away and when we realised managed to obtain another one identical to the original. Was our child happy? No he was disgusted. Didn’t we know Oggy Doggy smelt different?

A friend decided to let her child pack her own bag rather than face the inevitable arguments only to find she’d packed books, pencils and socks but no shoes other than the sandals she was wearing, no underwear at all and no tops. Neither was happy but the child did learn consequences.

And let’s not forget the adult male in the mix…..always insist he packs for himself!!!!

Goodbye Faithful Friend

Goodbye Faithful Friend

Yesterday my little dog died.

I patted her goodbye as I went off to town and when I returned in the afternoon I was surprised that she didn’t run out to greet me. She was getting quite deaf but usually the cat nudged her when I came through the gate and they would both run to meet me. The cat didn’t meet me either and as I stepped onto the terrace I saw the cat watching me through the glass door.

I looked to the side and there was my little dog, lying on her favourite blanket, head on paws, fast asleep. I bent down to pat her and realised she was gone.

Tears welled up, as I remembered the many happy years we had shared…..the day we chose her from a litter and my husband put her in his pocket, the time our small granddaughters decked her with necklaces and tied a baby bonnet on her head as she sat patiently and the way she liked to sit at your feet with one paw resting on your shoe.

Sophy and our cat, Sox, were best friends.

They trotted after my husband as he checked water troughs and fences. They sat, one each side of me, as I gardened or picked tomatoes, then followed me back to the house. Often they were to be found, lying side by side, stretched out in the sunshine.

As Sophy became more deaf, Sox would tap her to make her aware they were needed. Sox is now dogging our steps, obviously missing her companion.

Sophy is buried in our pets’ cemetery, alongside Gyp, the most faithful companion to our boys as they navigated childhood.

Gyp was the ball-fetcher when the cricket ball or football went out of bounds, having learnt how to latch onto the football laces. Gyp was the one our four-year-old painted with his older brother’s model paints and when questioned, claimed “Gyp had got wet and went rusty”. Gyp liked to pose when the camera came out and there are few photos of our boys without him.

How grateful we all are for the wonderful love and companionship these little dogs have unstintingly given us, the empathy our boys learnt from being with them, for other animals, and the sheer joy they brought to our lives.

Sophy was over seventeen years old, fit and active, apart from some deafness, to the day she died. Wouldn’t we all like to live a full and busy life and then gently fall asleep in our old age ?

Farewell our good and faithful friend.

Me Time

Me Time

I was thinking about “me time”. Yes, I can hear mothers of babies and young children muttering “there is no time for ‘me time’”. And mothers of school age children who either work and/or spend precious time ferrying children to sport or ballet or music or just play dates muttering the same. STOP!

Mothers with babies and young children, I know you often use that time to catch up with some household task but try to spend even half an hour of their nap time doing something just for you whether it’s reading, going out into the garden, exercising or whatever. If your child doesn’t nap then early on get them used to going into their bedroom with books or toys with the door closed for an hour for “their special time”.

My husband used to give me Tuesday evening off, I’d go to art class and he was responsible for the children. That time apart from family responsibilities and having adult conversation was a lifesaver. Perhaps for you it could be some other hobby, maybe book club or just catching up with girlfriends where every sentence isn’t interrupted by crying or “Jimmy don’t do that” or “yes darling that is clever”.

Mothers of school age children, obviously if you’re also working you are desperately time poor but at least you do get to have time away and the opportunity to have adult speech. Stay at home mothers usually spend a lot of time helping at school and doing unpaid volunteer work plus the constant ferrying around. Make friends with the other mothers so that if there ever is an emergency or you’re running late you feel able to ask for help.

Keeping sane and having time with your partner/husband is the best argument for establishing set bedtimes for the children. During the week because my husband didn’t arrive home until 6:30 I used to feed the children early, cleaning up and putting our meals aside. Then after time catching up with the boys doings, he’d put them to bed with a story, we’d both kiss them goodnight and then zap our dinner and have it in peace and quiet. On weekends we all ate together, cleaned up together, did family things, went out together as a family.

Every month our parents gave us a Friday or Saturday night off and we’d go out to dinner and perhaps see a movie, go to a concert or dance or catch up with friends. It was good for the children to spend time alone with their grandparents as well. Remember your children will grow up and leave home and you don’t want to find yourself living with a partner you no longer know. Those years after your children leave can be some of the best and freest of your life together.


And seeing I’m on the Advice Wagon, I know it takes extra time but when your young child offers to help with household chores like getting dinner or cleaning etc accept that help. Don’t wait until they are teenagers and then suddenly start asking for or yelling at them to help. Make it an expected thing from an early age.

Most of all take time to enjoy each stage of your life. It passes so quickly. As someone once said “It’s not the destination but the journey that is important”.

Ky’s Baptism

Ky’s Baptism

Hi guys,

Last weekend we celebrated the Baptism of our son into our Catholic Church.

It was a great day and we enjoyed having friends and family together to celebrate the occasion.

We selected my first cousin from Sydney to be the Godfather and Leki’s older sister is the Godmother.

The Godparents 🙂

I enjoy the traditional aspect of our Faith and our Culture.

The day started off early with the help of my sister with make up and hair at 7:30am. While I was being made up Leki was getting Emelina ready and Kyneton was being nursed by my sister.

I had already asked my Family to help organise the day by getting my sister to pick up the Cake from Eiffel Cakes, my Aunty picked up the balloons from Lombards, we have personalised chocolates as a gift made by chocsbymez and we had 3-4 cars rolling over to the Church from my parents house loaded with local Family and those who came from interstate and Overseas!

Thanks ChocsbyMez 🙂

Despite our best efforts we were a little late to the Church service at 10:30am but we were apart of the second half of the service.

My mother helped us into our Traditional costume which are woven mats with fibre ropes tying everything down. It looks uncomfortable but it’s not too bad and we are not in the traditional te’unga (costume) that often so we both enjoyed it 🙂


Our Church

Kyneton’s Christening was at 11:30am and I was feeling a bit of stress as we were running late but things settled as we spoke to Father Jan and he settled my nerves!

The Baptism went for about 20 minutes and I must say little Ky did very well as I tried to make sure he was comfortable as possible. I fed him earlier and made sure his nappy was nice and fresh.

All smiles 🙂

As Father Jan poured the water over Ky blessing him I thought Kyneton was going to belt out a massive tantrum but he was quite settled and actually drifted into a deep sleep 🙂 Lucky me!

As with all our Family celebrations we make sure we take plenty of photos to remember the occasion! This event was no different 🙂

Our little community 🙂

Special shout out to my cousin and his girls from Sydney! We know more Sydneysiders would have loved to be here but sent their love and were there in spirit 🙂

Thank You Sydney Crew!

Also want to mention my overseas travelers from Tonga and New Zealand.

My Grandmother, Aunty and Uncle and cousins from NZ who were able to celebrate the day with us.

From the Friendly Islands with Love
Cousins from NZ!

After we finished up our photos and engagements at our Church we made our way to the little after party at The Braybrook Hotel.

It’s a buffet restaurant based in West Melbourne and the main reason (apart from the quality of the food) we decided to host the gathering here was because they have an AWESOME indoor playground that is great for entertaining the kids. Highly recommend them for your next party!

So Kyneton’s Baptism was on Sunday 6 May 2018 but I pre-booked The Braybrook Hotel in February to make sure we had enough seats.

I picked and organised the date early in 2018 so I could let all the travelling families know early and allow plenty of time to save $$ and travel to Melbourne.

Ky’s Baptism Cake

So by 3:30pm the day was completed and we were all done.

Despite a few little hiccups the day was a success.

Special shout out to my sister for capturing these priceless photos.

To all my friends and Family thank you for your help and witnessing my son’s journey in God’s love.


With love,

Belinda xo

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

Hi Mums,

Happy Mother’s Day to you all for next week 🙂

This post is arriving a week early as I have a few jam packed weeks coming up so I thought I’d share some of the events we’ll be up to on Mother’s Day weekend and I’d love to hear what you’ll be up to!

Mother’s Day is doubly special for me because it’s been almost 1 YEAR since my very first blog post!

I wanted to commit to posting weekly without fail and I’ve managed to do that. Hope you’ve enjoyed these posts that I’m sharing as much as I have presenting it to you 🙂

I also have a special part of my blog where I time stamped my very first blog entry which you can find in the top right corner 🙂


Well, what has happened in a year? Plenty!

  • I had a new team member join our family – little Kyneton
  • Emelina has started up Montessori school and is slowly detaching from Mum and Dad 🙂
  • I’ve grown a year wiser with how I manage my time and spend it with loved ones
  • Emelina has started regular sport/training which I’ll share later 🙂
  • Plenty of celebrations, parties and events AND MORE!

So Mother’s Day is Sun 13 May and gosh the year has flown by so quickly already.

Just feels like we packed up the Christmas decorations just last week 🙂

This is what we have planned for the weekend

Early in the morning we’ve signed up to the Mother’s Day Classic which is a Fun Run/Walk raising money and awareness for Breast Cancer research.

We’ll be definitely walking NOT running LOL

It’s based around my beautiful city of Melbourne in the Alexandria gardens and we’ll be dressed up in our best pink clothes and walking shoes!

We’ve signed up for the 4km course

I wrote earlier that we moved over an hour away from the main CBD of Melbourne almost 1.5 years ago and we’ve loved the country change.

There are times though that I’ve missed being in the City and having that cosmopolitan feeling! It’ll be great to return back and make some new memories with my little family.

Melbourne Botanic Gardens

When the morning is all finished up I’ll be having lunch with my Mother-in-Law in the city.

Leki’s parents

We’ll take her out to a little Japanese place that’s kid friendly. Always good to see Family and spending quality time!

We’ll also plan to see Leki’s Grandmother who is now in a nursing facility and celebrate her strong spirit!

Leki’s Grandma

We are lucky to have great grandparents with us still and we only have one set of them on both sides of our Families – Leki’s maternal grandmother and my maternal grandmother.

The Yarra River

After we finish up having lunch we’ll head up to the Northern suburbs and have an early dinner for my Mother and my Grandmother.

My Mum 🙂

We are celebrating Kyneton’s Baptism this weekend and we are blessed to have my Grandmother from Tonga visiting! So we get to spend time with her, celebrate Ky’s Baptism this weekend and Mother’s Day next week!

My Grandma

Phew! Mother’s Day will be a busy day for us.

Fortunately we’ll be staying in the city overnight so we can get over to the Fun Walk nice and early then Lunch in the city before finishing off in the Northern suburbs then hike back out to the country late Sunday night.

Wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

Have a great Mother’s Day – however you choose to spend it!

With love,

Belinda xo

A Friend In Me

A Friend In Me

Hi guys,

Esther was apart of an organising committee that successfully hosted a great party/initiative that celebrates children and parties. I asked Esther to give a little insight into how much effort goes into organising something at this scale!

The event was last Sunday 15 April 2018 and I asked Esther to give a little feedback prior.

Here’s the summary of what was on offer:


Enjoy 🙂

Hi Belinda,

Just a quick note about this Superhero themed event. (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page)

How do we plan it all?
friend in me
Great work ladies 🙂
Basically, they are 3 of us that constantly messaging each other day and night to organise, finalise and brainstorm the party and we do have a few other volunteers helping out too.
We also managed to get all our partners involved too!
So we are 4 days away from the party.
This week we are finalising the schedule as some entertainers have last minute changes and we had to reshuffle everyone around which was an inconvenience to the others but we found a way to make it work 🙂
In the end we just had to work together to find a solution as the event was only 4 days away!

This is our 2nd year running this community event and it is bigger and better then last year as we have a bigger venue and hoping to raise more money for the Ronald McDonald House which is a charity doing great work for kids.

This week we are picking up and printing some sponsored vouchers, goodies for the goodies bags, bean bags for the quiet room for special kids and BBQ burner for the sausage sizzle. It’s all happening!
We definitely had fun and will return next year 🙂
On Friday, I will pick up some bread from Bakers Delight, sausages from the butcher (Ascot Vale Meats on Union Road) and on Saturday fruits from a local green grocer (The Happy Apple) and cupcakes from Mister Nice Guys.
We will also spend all day Saturday (day before the event) getting together to pack the 300+ goodies bags, wrapping up the raffles prizes and finalising the party.

Beside that, earlier in the week on Monday we checked the venue to finalise the set-up.

The plan on Sunday (event day) is basically getting there at 7am to set-up and confirm the vendors at 8am and allow them to set up with a final briefing at 8.45am before the doors open!
Super Leki and Owlette 🙂
We can’t wait for this as we had planned for this since last year July (almost 9 months of planning!!) and in only the last 6 weeks we had been more focused on delivering it.
We are so excited and LET’S PARTY!!!

Can’t Slow Progress!

Can’t Slow Progress!

Hi guys,

Sombre post for you today.

I’ve broken this post into 3 short sections with some updates on Eme’s development/School that I’d like to report:

I had one of the worst experiences in school to date when a Mother described to me how her child was being called names and being bullied at school – because the child has special needs.

When the story was being retold to me I felt a range of emotions.

Infuriated! Frustrated! Helpless! Angry!

Fortunately the Mother calmed me down and said she’s conditioned for it and now it rolls of her like water off a duck’s back.

I’m still trying to register that.

I don’t think I’d ever recover if any of my kids are getting bullied or called names.

It would be even worse for me as a parent if I caught wind that it was my children bullying other kids.

Big Girl School 🙂

But when she said the Mother of the offending child was also branding her child ‘retarded’ that crossed the line.

It reinforces the idea that children learn from their environment.

If parents are hopeless with their moral compass then can we blame children who bully if they pick up these same behaviours at home?

Of course not! They learn from what they see and hear.

I mentioned earlier that Leki and I are working on building respectful and resilient kids and even with our best efforts we can still fall short.

Actions not words.

That’s what kids respond to.

You can say one thing and then do another and they’ll judge you from what you did not what you said.

So with that vent out the way I have also something else to share:

Emelina has learnt the power of lying

Here’s the story… I noticed there was a little toy fish with the tail now broken.

I approached Eme about it and asked: “What happened to the toy Eme? Did you break it?”

Eme’s response: “No Mama – Aneira did it”

Me: “Tell me honestly Eme – did you break the toy?”

Eme: “No Mama – Neriah did it…”

Me: “Eme… this is your last chance… did you break the toy?”

Eme: “Yes Mama, Eme did it. I’m sorry” (with a cheeky smile)

Happy Days 🙂

I couldn’t believe how this little girl managed it or if it’s a developmental thing but she will now test the boundaries with her little white lies.

In this short conversation she was trying to blame her cousins who hadn’t visited or played with the broken toy recently.

Once she realised that I wasn’t buying her story she gave up and accepted fault 🙂

I’ll have to be on my game from now on.

The final update is Eme’s successful detachment at School.

At her Montessori school the kiddies are grouped in age groups rather then Year levels.

So the first ‘stage’ to assist with development and eventually detachment from parents is the Nesting/”Nido” age group ranging from 6 months to 3yo where classes can be a weekly session for an hour.

After some time familiarising with the classroom and the teacher plus other kids you can then progress to the next class once you’re around 3yo.

The next age group is “Yellow Group”.

In Yellow Group parents are encouraged to say goodbye to the children in the morning before leaving while trying your best to avoid the drawn out goodbye.

So there I was at our second class into Yellow Group and after our first session I felt that Eme was settling in well with her new classmates.

When I went to say goodbye to Eme in the hallway leading into her classroom and I leaned in for the kiss and hug and then she said: “See ya Mama” turned around and ran excitedly to her Yellow Group.

And just like that… my little girl had cut me from her imaginary umbilical cord 🙂

Eme’s School Bag

When her class finished 2 hours later – I was huddled with all the other anxious Mums in the hallway waiting to see how our little ones got on.

Next thing we hear is the door swing open and then the stampede of excited kids looking for the familiar face of Mum or Dad.

Then… out to the confusion I saw my little Eme.

Big eyes, wide brimming grin and a high pitch excited squeal when her eyes locked onto mine.

I felt so relieved that she enjoyed her time away from Mama because she has been my little side kick these last 3 and a bit years but now I feel she’s begun her own unique journey.

Such a #MamaMoment 🙂

Well, there you have it.

A wide ranging experience with pre-school.

Bullying. Lying. And now Flying… Solo!

The adventure continues…

With love,

Belinda xo

Time’s Up

Time’s Up

Wills are strange things.

They can be an affirmation of love or an opportunity to say things that would never have been said in life. They can make dreams come true or be an instrument of revenge. They can bring families together or tear them apart.

writing GIF-downsized

When you have young children, making a will also includes making provision for the care of your family if you and your partner are both gone. This can be an agonising decision. Who will love them or raise them the way you intend ? Are the grandparents too old, too sick or unwilling to take on raising another family?

Is your sibling’s spouse on one side charming but way too casual with their own children? Is your sister-in-law a martinet whose children are frightened to say boo and live in something close to a prison camp? Are other siblings unmarried and always travelling or partying and will other siblings on the other side take offence that they weren’t chosen?

Are you both orphans with no close relatives? Would any of your friends be agreeable or capable? You pray it will never happen but you must make some provision or they will end up in state care. You may be fortunate that you have someone who is both willing and loving but many couples don’t have that luxury and agonise over the best of a very ordinary bunch. In our case it meant them being put into the care of an interstate uncle who barely knew their names and changed partners more often than his socks, or an aunt who drank heavily and screamed like a fishwife at her own children.

Will your children not only lose their parents but their home and friends and be forced to make great adjustments while coping with overwhelming grief? These are sobering thoughts for any parent.

mi vida loca funeral GIF-source


We wrote letters to our children to be given to them, in case the worst happened, before the reading of the will, (updating them every two years) so they would have written proof of how much we loved them and how proud we were to be their parents. We included a couple of photos very special to us all and then we prayed hard that they would never need to read them.

We breathed a sigh of relief when our eldest child reached an age where he could have the guardianship of his younger sister and brother.

How Do You Manage Grief?

How Do You Manage Grief?

I had a call this morning from an old neighbour of my parents. Elaine and her husband Fred lived next door to my family from the time I was a teenager and we were constantly in and out of each other’s homes. They were there for our marriage and when visiting my old home we always went across to see them. They gave our sons their first cricket bats and the whole family were very fond of them.


Sadly Ted died suddenly nine years ago but Elaine remained in their home because that was where she felt closest to Fred. My parents have since gone and so visits have become the occasional phone call and Christmas card but today Elaine felt compelled to call me.

She said yesterday was her 90th birthday and she was suddenly overwhelmed by grief for the loss of her husband of 55 years. She wanted to talk to someone who had known and loved him.

Friends have told her she should be over it by now but she said how can you forget the loss of someone who was such part of your life.

It reminded me of a book I was given when I was grieving which listed the emotions one should expect to experience and how by certain amounts of time having passed you should “have moved on”. It was written by a well known psychologist but I felt the author had never actually experienced grief and ended up by pitching it into the rubbish bin.

giphy-downsized (1)

Everyone is different and experiences grief and shows grief in a multitude of different ways; it is impossible to generalise. Some people get relief by shouting and screaming and throwing things while others may appear to getting on with their lives while internally bleeding. Both are valid.

Some need to talk it out while others just need the quiet and space to fully realise their loss. Some can no longer stay in the home they shared amid the constant reminders of what was, while others relish the familiarity and the sense of their loved one being nearby. Some have done their grieving over a long period of illness and need to move on to a new phase of life and are perhaps more open to finding love again. Others cannot imagine life with another partner and prefer their memories. They feel being alone is preferable to settling for what they perceive as second best.


No one should ever live their lives according to “what the neighbours think” or friends or even family. Do what that small voice deep inside you tells you is right for your circumstances and you.